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Should You Hire a Personal Trainer?

Should You Hire a Personal Trainer?
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By Kitt Walsh

Even though the new year has us looking forward, the holiday season just passed has many of us looking back—to our increasingly wide-load derriere. The cookies, candies and enormous holiday meals has us looking more like Kim Kardashian than we’d like and we make a resolution to join a gym this year and stick to an exercise plan.

Many of us, however, abandon those good intentions well before Spring, so is there anything we can do to fulfill that promise to ourselves and keep on hitting the gym?

Yes. Get a personal trainer.

If you wince at the cost of hiring such a professional, realize it is truly money well spent. A personal trainer brings many benefits to your exercise program and is well worth the money. Here are some of the benefits of getting a good personal trainer:

You’ll learn about safety: At our age, our muscles and joints don’t bounce back from injury like they did when we were younger. So not getting hurt in the first place is an even better idea. A personal trainer is schooled in how to use a gym’s machines properly and knows which exercise best suit a bum knee or a body that has passed a half-century and may be out of shape.

Bewildered by machines: True some of us Boomers are gym rats and can set a Bowflex or weight machine blindfolded. But for those of us who have been letting even our little hand weights at home gather dust, a personal trainer can show us how each machine works, explain what it can do for our bodies and incorporate the correct machine into our routine to get the results we want.

Aiming for the target: Speaking of results, a personal trainer can take our vaguely worded wishes (“I’d like to lose weight”) and translate them into concrete goals (“I am interested in becoming more flexible in my neck and shoulders and lose 10 pounds by Valentine’s Day.”)

Custom is the way to go: A personal trainer is certified and trained to help design an exercise program to suit your personal needs. Are you trying to stave off osteoporosis? Weight-bearing exercises will help you build bone density. Are you suffering from an old car accident injury? Your trainer can help you increase your range of motion in that whip-lashed neck. Maybe you have bladder issues? Working on your core can help strengthen your pelvic floor. Also, as you work with a trainer, they can monitor your progress, evaluate what works and what doesn’t, and make adjustments to your routine to maximize your results.

Motivation lagging? We may roar out of bed on January 1st, determined to work off that eggnog and Christmas cake, but quit when the going gets tough or the aches and pains become a bit much. Meeting your personal trainer gives you an appointment you can’t miss and acts as both coach and cheerleader, pressing you to go that extra mile (or 20th sit-up.)

Picking the right personal trainer can make all the difference. If you have one you don’t like, you will avoid your appointments with him or her or work with less gusto when you are exercising.

Choosing the right trainer is like choosing the right business partner or friendship—you need someone with whom you can communicate and someone you enjoy spending time with and whose advice you value.

  • Check out different trainers: Ask about their level of experience and education. If they are part of your gym staff, watch them work out with some of the other members and see if you like their style. If you are a gentle encouragement of a yoga teacher type, you don’t want a personal trainer who barks like a drill sergeant.
  • Ask around: Word-of-mouth goes a long way. Talk to other members at your gym or quiz friends who may be working with a trainer one-in-one. Be ready with a list of initial goals you want to work on so you can compare apples-to-apples when it comes to getting your questions answered and to cover the same territory when interviewing the various trainers.
  • Book one session: Take a tour of the gym equipment and be sure to leave a little time to work on a few exercises to see if the chemistry between you and the trainer is right.
  • Make use of the time: Unless you are Donald Trump, you may be unable to work with your trainer for an extended period of time, so learn what you can while you can. Understand why the trainer has you working on certain machines and chose the exercises you are doing. Memorize the routine and then learn to become your own cheerleader once you’ve got it down. Hire the trainer for a refresher session or two if you find you’ve hit a plateau.
  • Split the cost: Personal trainers aren’t cheap (they can run $75 per session and higher) so consider splitting a session cost with a friend who is working on some of the same goals as you. The competition can’t hurt either.

Here’s wishing you good heath in 2015.

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